Henk Badings & JW de Bruyn – Elektronische Musik

Henk Badings & JW de Bruyn - Elektronische Musik 7in single front cover
Henk Badings & JW de Bruyn - Elektronische Musik 7in single back cover
Henk Badings & JW de Bruyn - Elektronische Musik 7in single
Henk Badings & JW de Bruyn - Elektronische Musik 7in single seite 1

During the 1950s, J.W. de Bruyn was Philips Research Laboratories’ official sound engineer, working at their Eindhoven electronic facility, when the company, possibly inspired by similar ventures elsewhere in Europe, decided it was time to have some music created with the oscilloscopes, sine wave generators and modulators and invited several composers over, including Edgar Varèse, Nicolas Schoffer and Henk Badings (1907-1987). The latter’s Kain und Abel was the first work ever composed in the newly launched electronic music studio, in 1956. The studio was moved to Utrecht in 1960 and became known as the STEM (Studio voor elektronische musiek).

Edgar Varèse with J.W. de BruynThis 7-inch disc was issued as an illustration of De Bruyn and Badings’ “Elektronische Musik” article in Philips Technische Rundschau, or Philips’ technical review, issue 19, Number 6, published 1957 in West Germany. One assumes the article introduced the engineers among the readership to electronic sounds and elaborated on the possibilities for composers. The front cover picture shows De Bruyn and Badings configuring the optical siren used in Kain und Abel. The record’s back cover blurb goes like this:

Die Magnetbänder für beide Seiten sind im Forschungslaboratorium der N.V. Philips’ Gloeilampenfabrieken, Eindhoven hergestellt. Diese Schalplatte ist nicht einzeln käuflich. Ein Langspielplatte mit dem vollständigen Werk “Kain und Abel” ist im Handel erhältlich.
[The magnetic tape for both sides was produced in the research laboratory of the N.V. Philips’ glow lamp factory in Eindhoven. This record is not to be sold separately. A Long Playing record with the full-length version of Kain und Abel is commercially available.]

The B side indeed comes wih a short version, or Verkürtze Fassung, of the Kain und Abel 16mn electronic ballet music, recorded May 1956 in the Philips’ studio with J.W. de Bruyn as assistant. The work was commissioned by the 1956 Holland Festival for a Jan Zielstra choreography premiered by the Nederlands Ballet company. The LP version appeared in 1957.  Kain und Abel was reissued, along other Dutch early electronic works, in the Popular Electronics 4-CD box set published by Basta (booklet available here).

The A side is called Elektronische Musik Klangbeispiele, or Electronic Music Sound Examples, and is apparently a De Bruyn/Badings collaboration to illustrate their article. As far as I know, it hasn’t been reissued or digitized before. Though it is composed of a succession of various sound experiments, it works as a coherent tone poem in a pre-determined tonal pitch. The studio techniques used include: piano sounds through vari-speed manipulation ; backward running tape ; echo, reverb and overdrive sound effects ; sine wave electronic tonalities ; tape loop ; processed bell and clavichord sounds, a.o.

J.W. de Bruyn & Henk Badings
01 Elektronische Musik – Klangbeispiele (6:48)
Henk Badings
02  Kain und Abel – Verkürtze Fassung (8:10)

Total time 15:00
7-inch single released by Philips, West Germany, 1957


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13 Responses to “Henk Badings & JW de Bruyn – Elektronische Musik”

  1. 1 Stephen Boyle March 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Ahh, tape. Thank you, Continuo!

  2. 2 continuo March 7, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    You’re welcome.

  3. 3 missV March 8, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Cool stuff!! I love your blog.

    keep posting

  4. 4 continuo March 8, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Thank you very much for your comment.
    And don’t worry: there’s no plan to stop the blog soon.

  5. 5 nehoccramcire March 9, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    wonderful, thank you for that

  6. 6 continuo March 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it. It’s indeed a little gem of a record.

  7. 7 VicDiesel March 10, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Wow. Cool stuf. Being Dutch, I knew of Henk Badings, but only as a composer of fairly timid piano pieces that once upon a time were only moderately progressive.

  8. 8 continuo March 10, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks for your comment. Indeed, Badings doesn’t have a good reputation as a classical music composer, but is definitely an electronic music pioneer. It seems unbelievable that, when faced for the first time with an oscilloscope and sine wave generators, Badings came up with the Kain und Abel masterpiece and the wonderfully musical experiments on side 1 of this record. He didn’t learn electronic music at the conservatoire, and had to make this great leap into the void without a master to guide him. On the other hand, some composers stay in their comfort zone their entire life – not so with Henk Badings.

  9. 9 veryan March 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    yes, this sounds like a possible precursor for the ‘Evolution for Ballet’ piece issued as LP for Phillips as well….those were great records….they had good folding sleeves and nice layout with artwotk….the Badings one used an early Mondrian picture….are there any of these Phillips LPs on this site?…they were never reissued.

  10. 10 continuo March 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Hi, Veryan. Not sure which Badings LP came with a Mondrian picture, but most of the Dutch early electronic music of the 1950-60s, including Philips releases, have been reissued on CD in the previous years, especially by the Basta label. The music of Henk Badings, Dick Raajmakers, Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan is now well documented and available.

  11. 11 Acousmata July 21, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Another fantastic contribution. Love these early electronic demo-records. Badings is indeed underrated– I think Kain und Abel is one of the most beautiful compositions from the first decade of tape music. Are you familiar with its use in James Whitney’s experimental film Yantra? It can be seen here, though you must forgive the poor quality (sadly, Yantra exists in no other format, as far as I know): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvWwlZSXaR0

  12. 12 continuo July 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    I’m not familiar with Yantra so, thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check it soon.

  13. 13 Tiffany Ng March 13, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Thanks for the info and photos! I’ve been looking for this record.

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